, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 437-454
Date: 17 Apr 2008

Voice in the Classroom: How an Open Classroom Climate Fosters Political Engagement Among Adolescents

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Abstract

Does civics instruction have an impact on the political engagement of adolescents? If so, how? Analysis of data from CIVED, a major study of civic education conducted in 1999, finds that an open classroom climate has a positive impact on adolescents’ civic knowledge and appreciation of political conflict, even upon controlling for numerous individual, classroom, school, and district characteristics. Furthermore, an open classroom environment fosters young people’s intention to be an informed voter. Results further show that exposure to an open classroom climate at school can partially compensate for the disadvantages of young people with low socioeconomic status.

This research has been supported by the generous assistance of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Leaning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and the National Academy of Education’s postdoctoral fellowship program. Additional funding for research assistance has also come from the University of Notre Dame’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. Earlier versions were presented at the annual meeting of the CIRCLE advisory board, and Notre Dame’s Program in American Democracy workshop. Able research assistance has been provided by Jacqueline Genesio.